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YouTube is a website designed for sharing videos. It is one of the biggest, most popular sites in the world, and is eating up the audience that used to watch TV
YouTube is a viable self-promotion and self-expression platform for all writers and should be considered.
You can use it in a small way – you can film promotional talks or readings you do and store and share them there.
Or you can use it in a bigger way and make and share videos regularly, and aim for a larger audience.
Zer0 Books has a small but growing YouTube channel. We currently have 87.1k subscribers (September 2021). This modest success is the result of our discovering the right format for our videos and developing a regular production schedule.
Because Zer0 Books is a critical-theory imprint, producing video essays is a natural format for us. While book trailers and author interviews are perhaps more obvious approaches, our audience is responsive to video essays and this format allows us to create content based on what is trending or in the news, as well as to create videos that might be of interest to our readers for years to
Our approach to video production has been to focus on regular production and slow growth, while keeping tabs on which videos are most successful in terms of views, rather than on creating videos with the aim of going viral.
Because of the potential for broad exposure on YouTube there is a temptation to approach video production with the aim of going viral. However, the aim of an author or book publisher should not be to create one widely viewed video, but rather to produce many videos that, while not necessarily going viral, find an audience. Producing a viral video is largely a matter of luck. It’s impossible to know in advance precisely what is going to hit the zeitgeist in order to get shared by millions. Further, YouTube’s algorithm has changed over the years in order to disincentivize clickbait tactics. What this means is that, in order to promote books through YouTube, it is better to think of your task in terms of developing a YouTube channel rather than developing a viral video.
Book trailers on YouTube can get a lot of views, for instance the trailer for How to Hang a Witch from Random House has over 215k views, however producing high-quality book trailers on a weekly basis is beyond the capabilities of our imprint, and a series of book trailers for one book is unlikely to inspire people to subscribe. Further, book publishers might reconsider creating book trailers as their main focus because, unless the books are part of a series or from a narrowly defined imprint, a channel consisting of book trailers may be too eclectic and lead to crating a nebulous channel with little consistent appeal.
Authors and publishers creating a YouTube channel should decide on what sort of format will fit best given their interest or aims.
In order to discover what format might work best for your channel, search YouTube for the channels that are on your topic. These need not be, perhaps should not be, channels produced by other book publishers or authors, but rather they should be the channels that are successful in your niche.
For example, when searching for Pagan channels online one finds that most everyone is vlogging but also that there is no major or big channel in the niche. Investing in a good camera and microphone, getting outside in some nice locations to shoot rather than sitting at a desk or in your living room, and editing videos to be a bit more like short documentaries rather than vlogs, could be a way to rise above the amateurs in the niche, gain an audience and get views. Using Zer0 Books as a model one might write short scripts based on ideas in the titles in your books and then deliver these scripts to the camera while editing in montages of nature or related content.
Searching for history channels what one immediately finds are TED Talks. An author or publisher attempting to build a YouTube channel for history books could emulate TED Talks by find a space or stage where you can record a series of lectures from a stage. The key is to make sure the audio for these videos is excellent and to shoot the videos with more than one camera. Movement is essential for a successful TED Talk.
If this is not possible, one can use a static shot format in a more obvious vlogging environment like a front room. An author or publisher might set up a podium in front of a bookshelf and deliver lectures on history based on their books to the camera. However, audio quality is still vitally important, as is lighting and video quality. Again, investing in a some equipment including an HD camera could make a big difference. Also, if you are going to use a static shot for your lectures, edit in animations and graphics that illustrate key concepts from your books in order to make the videos visually interesting.
Overall, the trick to creating a successful YouTube channel is to find a format that fits with your imprint or area of expertise, a format that you can work within while maintaining a regular schedule, and an approach to video production that you enjoy.